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2020, june, 18

Russian-Ukrainian conflict, what’s happening in the Black Sea

Freedom of navigation for Ukraine’s Black Sea ports

The Russian Ministry of Defence has changed the exit corridor for foreign ships from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Kiev is responsible for the safe exit of ships from Ukrainian ports and their passage to the assembly area, said General-Colonel Mikhail Mizintsev, 26 MAY. The humanitarian corridor, through which foreign ships can leave Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, has been adjusted and now stretches 139 nautical miles with a width of 3 miles, General-Colonel Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian interdepartmental coordination headquarters for humanitarian response, was quoted by the Russian TASS news agency as saying. “In order to ensure the safe exit of foreign ships from the ports of Odessa, Nikolaev, Chernomorsk, Herson, Ochakov and Yuzhny into the high seas, the Russian Armed Forces have made adjustments to the route of the humanitarian corridor. As of May 27, 2022, the humanitarian sea corridor is a route for the movement of ships. It is 139 nautical miles long, with a width of 3 miles,” he said. The corridor operates daily between 08.00 and 19.00 Moscow time. Russia’s conditions for allowing Ukrainian grain ships to pass through the Black Sea. Russia is prepared to offer a humanitarian corridor for ships carrying food to leave Ukraine in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said on Wednesday (25 MAY), as quoted by Interfax and Reuters. “And it also requires demining by the Ukrainian side of all ports where ships are anchored. Russia is ready to provide the necessary humanitarian passage, which it does every day,” the Russian official claimed. Russia is in contact with the United Nations in this regard, Rudenko added. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of planting drift mines in the Black Sea. Rudenko also said, quoted by Interfax, that a possible escort by Western ships of Ukrainian vessels carrying grain would “seriously exacerbate the situation in the Black Sea”.

Options for unblocking Ukrainian ports

“Two ways of unblocking are being discussed. The first is the military one: providing Ukraine with a sufficient number of anti-ship missiles with a range that would allow Ukraine to be able to fight back and protect merchant ships itself,” Pidlasa said. The second way is an operation like Ocean Shield in the Gulf of Aden, where NATO convoys escorted merchant ships into ports, protecting them from Somali pirates, the parliamentarian said. “It doesn’t have to be a NATO convoy. It could be a convoy provided by countries in the Black Sea region, which are also NATO countries, but they can mark it as their own efforts. These are Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. They can help us with that,” Pidlasa added. According to Prime Minister Denis Smigal, Ukraine loses $170 million a day through blocked ports and its export capacity has more than halved. Ukraine fears a Russian Trojan horse and will not open the Odessa port for grain exports. Ukraine is refusing to demine the port of Odessa in order to resume grain exports because Russian forces could exploit the situation to attack the city, regional administration spokesman Serghi Bratchuk revealed Wednesday, according to Agerpres, citing AFP. If the mines were removed, Russia “will want to attack; dreams of parachuting in troops,” the official said in a video message on Telegram. “The Russian fleet in the Black Sea will simulate a retreat to annexed Crimea. But as soon as we de-minimize access to the Odessa port, the Russian fleet will be there,” he claimed. At the UN’s request, Turkey has offered its help in escorting sea convoys from Ukrainian ports, despite the presence of mines, which have been detected as far as the Turkish coast.

Comment: Russia’s increased activity in the captured Snake Island makes it possible to block the Ukrainian coast and prevent the restoration of maritime trade, including the export of Ukrainian grain. The strategic position of Snake Island, coupled with the existence of A2/AD devices in Crimea and the presence of Russian Federation ships at sea, allows Russia to block the traffic of merchant ships to Ukraine, thus prohibiting imports and exports by sea. In the existing situation in Odessa, freedom of navigation can only be executed with ships, a strong coastal defence is not enough. And the only solution is for the UN General Assembly to meet in special emergency session and issue a resolution in support of the state under aggression, which must be adopted by two-thirds of the UN members present and voting. Following this resolution, states can provide naval support to Ukraine, thereby facilitating exports. The resolution will also allow ships to remain in the Black Sea for a long time without being subject to the provisions of the Montreux Convention. (Source:https://m.adevarul.ro/economie/business-international/minister-rus-modificat-coridor-iesire-nave-marea-neagra-1_628fe58b5163ec4271dbbf9a/index.html). (Source:https://www.hotnews.ro/stiri-international-25578633-conditii-pune-rusia-pentru-permite-trecerea-navelor-grane-ucrainene-prin-marea-neagra.htm). (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/in-ucraina-au-fost-avansate-doua-optiuni-pentru-deblocarea-porturilor-prima-calea-militara-a-doua-necesita-si-implicarea-romaniei_616745.html). (Source:https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2022/06/ukrainian-grain-how-to-lift-russias-black-sea-blockade/)

The Snake Island – a point of strategic importance for the western Black Sea or the object of an unnecessary Russian-Ukrainian war

The Snake Island, transformed by the Russians into an “unsinkable cruiser”. Russia’s navy has dominated the Black Sea since the start of the war, not least because Ukraine had no real maritime force. “Think of it (the island) as an unsinkable destroyer,” said Andy Netherwood, an air defence expert. “If you put radar and surface-to-air missile systems there, it allows you to dominate the airspace in the northern Black Sea, including the strategically important approach to Odessa.” But for the Russians, the economic blockade is important in the context of a protracted conflict. “In a conflict of attrition and erosion, the ability to maintain an economic blockade can become significant,” said Dr Sidharth Kaushal, a military expert. Despite attempts to take back the Snake Island and growing international calls to reopen the Black Sea, Russia’s dominance in the area remains important. Russia is fortifying the Snake Island to control the northwestern Black Sea. S-300 missile systems, 45 km from Romania. Russian forces continue to strengthen their positions on the Snake Island, which they are turning into a veritable beachhead, where three starships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet have been deployed, the head of the military administration in the Odessa region, Serhii Bratchuk, said on his Telegram account on Tuesday, according to Agerpres, which quotes the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform. Thus, in recent days a Tornado-G-type mobile multiple missile launch system (MLRS) and at least two similar BM-21 “Grad”, after three “Pantsir-C1” air defence systems, one “Tor-M2” anti-aircraft missile system (together with the transport and loading vehicle), five light military vehicles and one light armoured multirole vehicle intended, according to the Ukrainian side, as a platform for electronic warfare equipment were previously reported. The Ukrainian side also believes that the Russians will transfer even more equipment after lifting the Serna-type landing craft sunk by Ukrainian forces, so as to allow them to use both the main berth and a smaller one built on the island.

Comment: Russia seems determined to keep the island, even at a high cost of troops and equipment, given its importance. It can provide surveillance of the northern Black Sea and coastal targets, it can be a base for launching an amphibious desant, it can also be important in any peace agreement, possibly as a bargaining chip. It is not without interest that the defence of the island could become symbolic, like the Ukrainian resistance at Mariopol. Striking the facilities on Snake Island is primarily aimed at delaying or prohibiting the availability on the island of the capabilities necessary to provide a credible air defence. It is worth noting that, despite its tiny size, Snake Island is a strategic point for the western part of the Black Sea and could make a decisive contribution to the control of this area. Despite this, in this period of conflict, neither Russia nor Ukraine should attempt to control and deploy troops on the Snake Island, bearing in mind that they cannot be safe. On the one hand, the island is in the path of Ukrainian artillery and missiles, and on the other the Russian Black Sea Fleet has the means to destroy the adversary in this area. (Source:https://www.digi24.ro/stiri/externe/insula-serpilor-transformata-de-rusi-intr-un-crucisator-de-nescufundat-imagini-din-satelit-arata-activitate-intensa-pe-insula-1951547). (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/rusia-fortifica-insula-serpilor-pentru-a-controla-nord-vestul-marii-negre-sisteme-de-rachete-s-300-la-45-de-km-de-romania_616663.html).

Russia is developing a new coastal missile complex for the hypersonic Zircon cruise missile

Russian news agency Tass reported on 27.05.2022, citing two sources close to the Defense Ministry, that Russia is developing a new coastal missile complex for the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile. According to the second source, the new Zircon missile complex, like its predecessor Bastion with Onyks (Yakhont) missiles, will be capable of striking both naval and land targets.

Comment: As for the development of a coastal missile complex for the Zircon hypersonic missile, it seems that the 2022 timeframe for its introduction into the Naval Forces is too short, considering that this is the first time it is being talked about. In any case, it is obvious that new hypersonic coastal missile complexes will be brought to the Black Sea region, which will pose a major danger to NATO member states, including Romania. According to Russian representatives, the Zircon hypersonic missile (3M22) is capable of developing a speed of about nine Mach (1 Mach = speed of sound) and hitting targets at distances of over 1,000 kilometres. (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/rusia-dezvolta-un-nou-complex-de-rachete-de-coasta-pentru-racheta-hipersonica-de-croaziera-zircon_616630.html). Russians plan to use ships captured in Ukraine to guard Mariupol and Bediansk ports. Russian news agency Tass reported on 30.05.2022, citing a source in the force structures, that the former Ukrainian armored starships, which were captured during the special military operation, will be used to guard the ports of Mariupol and Bediansk on the Sea of Azov after the restoration of technical capabilities. According to the source, no final decision has yet been taken on the recipient of these vessels, i.e. naval units belonging to the FSB Border Service or the Russian Black Sea Fleet (RSBF). The source noted that issues of interoperability, communications between the captured vessels and other Russian force structures, as well as their ammunition supply are now being determined.

Comment: The Ukrainian Navy had 8 Gyurza-M class armoured patrol boats, of which the Russian Federation reportedly captured 3-5 ships. Their characteristics allow them to be used to guard ports, they have a speed of up to 25 Nd and a 30mm cannon (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/rusii-intentioneaza-sa-foloseasca-navele-capturate-in-ucraina-pentru-paza-porturilor-mariupol-si-bediansk_616646.html).

Ukraine has started receiving anti-ship missiles

Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Saturday (28 MAY), Reuters reports. He said the Harpoon missiles will be used alongside Ukrainian Neptun missiles to defend the Ukrainian coast, including the southern port of Odessa. Reznikov also wrote that the receipt of the Harpoon missiles is the result of cooperation between several states, adding that the delivery from Denmark took place ‘with the participation of our British friends’. “As a result of our intensive actions to defeat enemy naval forces, the group of warships of the Russian Federation’s Black Sea Fleet was pushed back to a distance of more than 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian coast,” according to the press service of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Naval Command, quoted by Ukrinform. “Trying to regain control over the northwestern part of the Black Sea, the enemy was forced to change its tactics: it deployed ‘Bal’ and ‘Bastion’ missile systems in Crimea and the Herson region and redeployed additional forces to the Snake Island,” which Russia has occupied since the first day of the invasion, the Ukrainian naval command notes. Russia’s increased activity on the captured Snake Island makes it possible to blockade the Ukrainian coast and prevent the restoration of maritime trade, including the export of Ukrainian grain, the British Ministry of Defence also noted on Monday, quoted by Zerkalo nedeli.

Comment: The deployment of anti-ship missiles is an important step in strengthening Ukraine’s defences, especially Odessa, which has been threatened by the execution of an amphibious desant since the start of the war. This has prompted Russia to take further steps on repositioning ships. But the threat of Russian missiles from the sea also remains, as Russian ships continue to “block civilian navigation” in the area. Only with coastal missiles does freedom of navigation and the defence of economic objectives at sea can be achieved and maintained. (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/ucraina-a-inceput-sa-primeasca-rachete-anti-nava-harpoon-din-danemarca-si-obuziere-autopropulsate-din-sua_616637.html). (Source:https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2022/05/u-s-may-boost-ukraines-defense-with-harpoon-missiles/). (Source:https://news.usni.org/2022/05/23/denmark-sending-ukraine-anti-ship-harpoon-missiles-to-take-on-russian-ships-in-black-sea). (Source:https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/sweden-supply-more-military-aid-including-anti-ship-missiles-ukraine-2022-06-02/). (Source:https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2022/06/how-can-swedish-rbs-17-anti-ship-missiles-help-ukraine/). (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/fortele-navale-ucrainene-au-anuntat-ca-au-impins-flota-rusa-la-peste-100-kilometri-de-coasta-ucrainei-dar-ocupantul-isi-schimba-tactica_616744.html).

Ukrainian naval forces announced they have pushed the Russian fleet more than 100 kilometers off the Ukrainian coast, but the occupier is changing tactics

The Ukrainian military said on Monday, 06 JUN, that it had succeeded in pushing the Russian fleet more than 100 kilometres from Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, where Russian ships have been conducting a naval blockade for several weeks, reports Agerpres, citing EFE and AFP. “Trying to regain control over the northwestern part of the Black Sea, the enemy was forced to change its tactics: it deployed ‘Bal’ and ‘Bastion’ missile systems in Crimea and the Herson region and redeployed additional forces to Snake Island,” which Russia has occupied since the first day of the invasion, the Ukrainian naval command said. The Russian occupiers have deployed modernised missile systems, electronic warfare stations and other equipment to the Snake Island, the spokesman for the Ukrainian army’s ‘Southern’ Operational Command, Vladislav Nazarov, was quoted as saying by the Ukrainian publication Zerkalo nedeli on 1 June. This could provide Russian forces with a possible disengagement of reconnaissance and sabotage groups on the Odessa coast or a massive bombardment of Odessa, he said, adding that at present there are no signs of preparation for a landing by the invaders, but attempts to approach and disembark reconnaissance and sabotage groups on the Odessa coast or at the mouth of the Danube are not excluded.

Comment: Despite the existence of anti-ship missiles on the Ukrainian coast, the Russian navy controls the northern Black Sea, minus the coastal area near the still Ukrainian-controlled territory. The Russian Federation has achieved an important strategic goal of blocking the traffic of merchant ships to Ukraine, thereby banning imports and exports by sea. The threat of sea-based missile strikes on targets within the territory also remains. Once again, it is clear that freedom of navigation and the defence of targets at sea or on the coast can only be executed by ships, a strong coastal defence is not enough, allowing the adversary complete freedom of manoeuvre. (Source:https://psnews.ro/marina-ucraineana-flota-rusa-s-a-indepartat-la-peste-100-de-kilometri-de-coasta-ucrainei-la-marea-neagra-670315/).(Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/fortele-navale-ucrainene-au-anuntat-ca-au-impins-flota-rusa-la-peste-100-kilometri-de-coasta-ucrainei-dar-ocupantul-isi-schimba-tactica_616744.html).

With the Russians nearby, Ukraine sank its own Vinnytsia corvette following a missile strike

On 10 June 2022 the corvette Vinnytsia was sunk by Ukrainian defence forces amid the advance of Russian occupation forces. The publication NavyRecognition quoting local media reports that the Ukrainian corvette Vinnytsia was sunk in the port of Ochakov. The ship could also perform anti-submarine warfare missions. The corvette was sunk following a missile strike. According to the source cited, this is the eighth ship the Ukrainian Navy has destroyed, from its own fleet, since the start of the Russian invasion on 24 February 2024. Russian news agency Tass reported on 10.06.2022, citing a source within the force structures, that Russian troops have taken control of a strategically important point in Ukraine’s Nikolaev Region, namely the Kinburn Spit area. Thus, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have opened a waterway to Ochakov. “As a result of the recent successes in the offensive actions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, a waterway to the town of Ochakov has been opened. A strategically important part of the Nikolaev Region, the Kinburn Spit area, has finally been liberated,” the source said. Earlier, in an interview with the Tass news agency, the head of the Herson Region military-civilian administration said that shipping in the area of the region’s ports will most likely be fully restored when the Nikolaev Region and, in particular, the town of Ochakov, which blocks the exit from the Dnieper-Bug estuary, are liberated.

Comment: The Kinburn Spit area is a strategic point not only for the Dnieper-Bug estuary, Ochakov and even the entire Nikolaev Region, but also for Odessa. It is about 60 kilometres (by water, as the crow flies) from the port of Odessa. Russian troops will be able to deploy a number of offensive armaments in this area, which could make a decisive contribution to future actions towards the Nikolaev and Odessa Regions. The Vinnitsa corvette of the Ukrainian Naval Forces was sunk, while the Yuri Olifirenko/ Project 773; Polnocny-C class landing ship managed to get out to sea, where it came under artillery fire from Russian multiple reactive missile launchers. It is not yet known whether it was sunk or managed to escape Russian military attack.  (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/cu-rusii-in-apropiere-ucraina-si-a-scufundat-propria-corveta-vinnytsia-prin-lovituri-de-racheta-ale-fortelor-ucrainene_616817.html). (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/rusii-se-apropie-de-ochakov-a-fost-cucerita-zona-kinburn-spit-care-asigura-controlul-estuarului-nipru-bug_616808.html). (Source:https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2022/06/ukrainian-navy-ship-in-dramatic-escape-survives-russian-artillery-attack/).

Fearing Bayraktar TB2 drones, the Russians are innovating. Tor ground-based air defense systems have been mounted on patrol ships.

On 07.06.2022, several Russian users posted on social media an unpublished photo showing the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s (FRMN) patrol vessel Vasily Bykov with a Tor-type ground-based air defence complex moored on the helipad on board. Russian users consider it “a forced, non-standardised solution to the ship’s air defence problems”. In fact, such a measure reveals one of the weaknesses of the patrol ships

Project 22160, only in the FRMN (four units).

In practice, it can be said that they have no air defence. The only such means of defence in the ship’s complement are portable anti-aircraft missile launchers of the Igla-S or Verba type (eight units). So, although the ship has a lot of firepower, with two modules of four cells each for launching Kalibr cruise missiles, it is a sure victim in the event of an adversary missile attack, launched from the ground, water or air. Russian representatives are probably most afraid of air strikes executed by Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones equipped by the Ukrainian military. It should also be noted that during the special military operation in Ukraine, Tor-type air defence complexes proved to be very effective means of countering Bayraktar TB2 drones. They have a range of about 15 kilometres and employ eight 9M330 anti-aircraft missiles in the Tor-M1 version or 16 9M338 missiles in the Tor-M2 version. Russian news agency Tass reported on 13.06.2022, citing a source in the Military Industrial Complex, that by the end of the year the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s (FRMN) Project 22160 patrol ships will be equipped with Tor-M2KM anti-aircraft missile complexes. The fifth Project 22160 patrol vessel, Viktor the Great, is under construction at the Zelenodolsk Shipyard and will be delivered to the MNRF by the end of this year. “The corvette Viktor the Great will be introduced into the MNRF’s outfit in December 2022, with a Tor-M2KM air defence module already installed on board,” the Tass agency source said. According to him, the sixth corvette, Nikolai Sipyagin, which will complete the series of Project 22160 patrol ships built at the Zelenodolsk Shipyard for the MNRF, “will have a chance to be delivered to the fleet at the end of 2023 with a new version of a naval-based air defence complex”.

Comment: Although they have a lot of modern technology, including even Project 22160 patrol ships, the Russian military is having to improvise to correct a number of design and operational errors and implement some of the Lessons Learned. The decision by Russian officials to equip Project 22160 patrol ships with Tor land-based anti-aircraft missile complexes is a compromise in that it negates the possibility of the ship using a deck helicopter. This is probably the only short term solution to strengthen the anti-aircraft defences of ships, which are deficient in this respect, especially for countering targets at medium ranges of 10000 – 20000 m. In the long term, ships should be adapted to allow the installation on board of a naval anti-aircraft missile system to clear the helipad. (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/de-teama-dronelor-bayraktar-tb2-rusii-inoveaza-pe-nave-de-patrulare-au-fost-montate-sisteme-terestre-de-aparare-antiaeriana-tor_616760.html). (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/dupa-modelul-vasili-bykov-alte-trei-nave-rusesti-din-marea-neagra-vor-fi-dotate-cu-complexe-antiaeriene-tor-m2km_616829.html).

After equipping it with Kalibr cruise missiles, the Russians will keep the Alrosa submarine in the Black Sea to take part in the war

Russian news agency Tass reported on 17.06.2022, citing a source in the Sevastopol force structures, that after being upgraded and equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles, the B-871 Alrosa submarine, Project 877V, will no longer be transferred to the Baltic Sea Fleet as previously planned. Thus, the submarine has been reinstated in the 4 Submarine Brigade and will remain in the Black Sea. “Following the repair and modernization process it underwent, the old Russian Black Sea Fleet (RSBF) submarine Alrosa became a Kalibr cruise missile carrier and joined the composition of the independent submarine brigade. The planned transfer to the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet is no longer on the cards,” the source said. Between 2014 and 2017, the MNRF received six new Project 636.3 submarines carrying Kalibr cruise missiles in its fleet. Some of these submarines have participated in combat actions in Syria and are now performing missions in the special military operation in Ukraine.

Comment: With transit through the straits blocked and more fortifications in the Black Sea more difficult to bring in, keeping the Alrosa submarine in the Black Sea will help increase combat potential, so Russia now has seven Kalibr cruise missile submarines in the region, five in the Black Sea and two in the Mediterranean. These will be divided up to carry out missions. Most likely, in the coming period, the Alrosa submarine will be used in military actions in Ukraine, the submarine will be tested in real combat conditions, following the upgrade. (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/dupa-ce-l-au-dotat-cu-rachete-de-croaziera-kalibr-rusii-vor-pastra-submarinul-alrosa-in-marea-neagra-pentru-a-lua-parte-la-razboi_616886.html.

Bucharest Format Summit 9 (B9)/10 JUN

The Bucharest 9 or B9 format includes the nine countries on NATO’s eastern flank and in Central Europe: alongside Romania and Poland, the three Baltic states, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The aim of the Bucharest meeting is to consult and coordinate the countries on the eastern flank ahead of the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of the month. The heads of state in the Bucharest 9 format adopted an 11-point joint statement strongly condemning Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine, calling on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory, and further supporting the need to “significantly” strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence posture. “We, the Presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the Slovak Republic, met today in the Bucharest 9 group to prepare for the NATO Summit in Madrid. We welcomed the participation of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. We met today at a time of unprecedented deterioration in the security environment caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the most serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades. Russia’s war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and is causing enormous human suffering and destruction,” the joint statement said. It also reiterated “the unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, to its democratically elected President, Parliament and Government, to the Ukrainian people in their courageous struggle to defend their homes, their country and Ukraine’s sovereign right to choose its own security and foreign policy arrangements without external interference”. “We must increase the multidimensional allied presence and ensure interoperable peacetime combat forces, timely replenishment with forces and assets, enhanced command and control arrangements, strengthened air and missile defenses, improved infrastructure, military mobility, and sustainable access to the fuel supply chain,” the document added.

Comment: The B9 format is strongly supported and encouraged by the United States. Importantly, the need to strengthen NATO’s posture of deterrence and defence in a balanced, credible, coherent, sustainable and tailored manner across the Eastern Flank has been discussed, as credible deterrence can form the basis for preventing future military adventures similar to the situation in Ukraine. The future Strategic Concept must also address the new security reality created by Russia’s war against Ukraine as a threat to Euro-Atlantic security and the need to strengthen the strategic partnership with the European Union to support peace and security. (Source:https://www.defense.ro/reuniunea-ministrilor-apararii-in-formatul-b9-bucharest-9-de-la-bucuresti).(Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/liderii-b9-au-cerut-dupa-reuniunea-de-la-bucuresti-retragerea-for_616806.html).

Russian-Ukrainian conflict, what’s happening outside the Black Sea

US aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman leads a show of force in the Mediterranean amid the war in Ukraine

The carrier’s naval strike group is patrolling NATO’s eastern flank, according to US military officials. Its combat ships are carrying out missions in the Aegean, Ionian and Adriatic Seas. The US Navy’s naval strike group, led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, which entered the Mediterranean on 14 December last year, was originally planned to move to the Persian Gulf. However, authorities in Washington have decided to keep the group in the Mediterranean because of the situation around Ukraine. The naval strike group includes the cruiser USS San Jacinto, the destroyers USS Bainbridge, USS Cole, USS Gravely, USS Jason Dunham and the Norwegian frigate Fridtjof. It also includes a nuclear attack submarine equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles. The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman carries about 90 aircraft and helicopters, including four squadrons of F/A-18 fighter and bomber aircraft, which include 48 such aircraft. 24 MAY, NATO is this week making a show of force in the eastern Mediterranean Sea that is intended as a clear message to Russia. The centerpiece is the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. Neptune Shield is the third in a series of exercises between the United States and NATO allies. The US previously participated in Neptune Challenge in October 2021 and Neptune Strike from January to February 2022, (Source: https://www.defenseromania.ro/portavionul-american-uss-harry-s-truman-conduce-o-demonstratie-de-forta-in-mediterana-in-contextul-razboiului-din-ucraina_616570.html). (Source: https://ziare.com/portavion-uss-harry-s-truman/).

Another U.S. Navy ship sent to the Mediterranean to help NATO meet Russia’s challenges

A U.S.-based Navy destroyer is heading to the Mediterranean Sea, becoming the latest U.S. ship deployed to the theater in recent months as NATO steps up its efforts to deter Russian aggression. The USS Forrest Sherman left its home port of Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday, 11 JUN, to serve as the flagship of NATO’s Maritime Group 2, the Navy announced Saturday in a news release. The deployment includes presence operations and exercise participation, according to the release, writes Alison Bath in Stars and Stripes. As part of NATO Standing Maritime Group 2, Forrest Sherman will operate alongside allied navies, including those of Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Spain and the U.K. The Mediterranean is in the U.S. 6th Fleet’s area of operations. The USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group, which includes the 28th Destroyer Squadron, has been operating in the Mediterranean since last December. It was originally scheduled to deploy to the Middle East, but amid the Russian military buildup and subsequent war in Ukraine started by the Kremlin on Feb. 24, the ship was ordered to remain in the Mediterranean.

What ships the United States still has in the Mediterranean

In January, the US Navy deployed four destroyers – USS Mitscher, USS The Sullivans, USS Donald Cook and USS Gonzalez – to the US 6th Fleet. At the time, analysts said the action was unusual in the past 30 years. Since then, Mitscher, The Sullivans and Donald Cook have returned to their home ports, but Gonzalez remains part of the carrier strike group Truman. (Source: https://evz.ro/inca-o-nava-a-marinei-trimisa-in-marea-mediterana-pentru-a-sprijini-nato-sa-faca-fata-provocarilor-rusiei.html).

Civilian ships used by the Russians for military purposes. How Russia is violating the Montreux Convention

An analysis published today on the Middle East Institute website by Istanbul-based geopolitical analyst Yörük Ișık points out that Russia is violating the spirit of the Montreux Convention and using civilian ships for military purposes. According to the author, although legal, this is not acceptable and should not be allowed. As is known, on 28 February 2022, Turkey activated the Montreux Convention, which has not been used since the Second World War, and closed the Black Sea straits to military vessels because of the conflict in Ukraine. The move disrupted the logistical supply line for Russian troops in Syria, interfered with Russia’s ability to rotate military assets in the Mediterranean, and prevented Moscow from bringing additional warships into the Black Sea. Închiderea actuală a strâmtorilor turcești în baza Convenției de la Montreux se aplică numai navelor militare. Însă, tranzitul liber prin strâmtori în scopuri comerciale continuă. Rusia abuzează de această distincție prin utilizarea navelor comerciale civile pentru a asigura logistica operațiunilor sale militare din Siria și Ucraina.

Comentariu: Federația Rusă a găsit modalități de a încălca spiritul convenției, în condițiile închiderii actuale a strâmtorilor turcești, prin furnizarea de logistică pentru operațiunile sale militare din Siria sau Ucraina, folosind presupuse companii private și nave civile. Însă, utilizarea navelor comerciale civile în scopuri militare încalcă spiritul mecanismului prevăzut în Convenția de la Montreux și ar trebui luate măsuri pentru reglementarea acestei situații. Rusia poate utiliza navele comerciale civile în scopuri militare în voie, dar Italia nu poate intra cu nave în Marea Neagră pentru a sprijinii acțiunile de eliminare a minelor. Dacă la această situație adăugăm și faptul că unele țări riverane, în prezent ale Mării Negre (Ucraina și Georgia) nu au luat parte la negocierile preliminare semnării convenției apar tot mai multe argumente care susțin necesitatea inițierii demersurilor necesare modificării Convenției de la Montreux pentru a ține seama de realitatea lumii moderne. (Sursa: https://www.defenseromania.ro/cele-5-tipuri-de-nave-civile-folosite-de-rusi-in-scopuri-militare-cum-incalca-rusia-conventia-de-la-montreux_616493.html).

NATO and Japanese military ships trained together in the Mediterranean Sea

NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) ships conducted joint exercises with Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, June 6, according to a June 9 press release from the North Atlantic Alliance. The Italian frigate ITS Margottini (F-592 ) – the command ship of SNMG2 – and the Turkish frigate TCG Salihreis (F-246) met the two Japanese ships, JS Kashima (training ship) and JS Shimakaze (Hatakaze class destroyer), during their transit through the Mediterranean Sea. The Japanese ships left their bases on 24 April for the 66th training cruise in the planetary ocean. The interaction was a great opportunity to strengthen cooperation and partnership between NATO and Japan. Newly commissioned Japanese officers had the opportunity to interact with NATO units and conduct training activities, including a manoeuvre exercise. An exchange of personnel allowed NATO crew members to embark on Japanese ships and each other, fostering interoperability between units and giving participants an insight into how NATO and Japan operate at sea.

Comment: The joint exercises offer very good opportunities to strengthen cooperation and partnership, as Japan is recently one of the main countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area with which NATO is developing relations. (Source: https://www.defenseromania.ro/nave-militare-nato-si-japoneze-s-au-antrenat-impreuna-in-marea-mediterana_616791.html). (Source: https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2022/06/nato-ships-exercise-with-jmsdf-in-the-mediterranean-sea/).

Cold War winds are blowing: Russia and NATO simultaneously conduct large-scale manoeuvres in the Baltic Sea

The press service of the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet (RBSF) announced on 09.06.2022 the start of an operational exercise with the fleet’s troop grouping, involving about 60 surface ships, more than 40 aircraft and helicopters, as well as up to 2,000 units of armaments, military and special technique. The planned MBRF exercise is taking place against the background of manoeuvres by NATO member states in the region. As is known, from 5 to 16 June, the exercise Baltops-2022 (Baltic Operations) will take place in the central and southern Baltic Sea as well as in coastal areas of Germany, Sweden, Poland and the Baltic States. Forty-four ships and around 100 aircraft from 14 NATO member states are taking part.

Comment: It should be noted that both exercises are particularly large in scale, which may underline the high level of tension in the region. (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/adie-vant-de-razboi-rece-rusia-si-nato-desfasoara-simultan-manevre-de-amploare-in-marea-baltica_616790.html).

A Russian ship violated Denmark’s territorial waters during NATO naval exercise Baltops 2022

In recent years, Denmark has made it clear that it faces frequent violations of its airspace by Russian military aircraft, particularly near the island of Bornholm, but recently, on 17 June, Copenhagen reported two new violations, this time of its territorial waters. French publication Opex 360 recalls that one of the most dangerous violations of Danish airspace was reported in June 2021, when NATO’s annual BALTOPS exercise was in full swing in the Baltic Sea. There, Russian Su-30 fighter jets twice flew into the airspace around the Danish island of Christianso, about 18 km northeast of Bornholm, despite the intervention of Royal Danish Air Force F-16 jets. The most recent incident was on 29 April, also near Bornholm.  At that time, the Danish Ministry of Defence said that a Russian reconnaissance aircraft had entered Danish airspace and two Royal Danish Air Force F-16s intervened immediately. Russia was keen to repeat the June 2021 challenge again this year, also when NATO’s BALTOPS naval exercise was in full swing. On 17 June, Copenhagen reported two new violations, this time in its territorial waters. The incident took place near Christianso Island. According to the Danish General Staff, a Russian corvette, the type of which was not specified, entered Danish territorial waters at 02:30 in the morning north of Christianso Island. Then, a few hours later, the same ship again crossed Danish territorial waters, also north of Christianso Island, 162 nautical miles from Kaliningrad, where the Russian Baltic Fleet is based. Following a call from the Danish navy, the Russian vessel immediately left Danish territorial waters. The violation of Danish territorial waters took place during the course of the military exercise BALTOPS 22, and Russian forces have also launched military manoeuvres in the same area. “Once again, Russia is ignoring international rules by not respecting borders. The Russian ambassador has been told clearly that this kind of action is totally unacceptable,” reacted Jeppe Kofod, Danish foreign minister, on the 17 June incident.

Comment: Russian naval activity in the Baltic Sea region has increased considerably recently. In early May, the Russian military conducted a major exercise in the Kaliningrad enclave between Poland and Lithuania, and in June it held an exercise in parallel with the NATO exercise BALTOPS 22. (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/o-nava-rusa-a-incalcat-apele-teritoriale-ale-danemarcei-in-timpul-exercitiului-militar-baltops-22_616896.html). (Source:https://www.digi24.ro/stiri/externe/o-nava-de-razboi-ruseasca-a-patruns-in-apele-teritoriale-ale-danemarcei-in-marea-baltica-ambasadorul-rus-la-copenhaga-a-fost-convocat-1979517).

Why is the corvette contract not signed? Naval Group: negotiations are about ‘costs’ and ‘risks’ / Second-placed Damen says it would do them for the same money and ahead of schedule

At a more critical time than ever, with war on the country’s borders and the Black Sea “captured” militarily by Russia, Romania still hasn’t signed the contract for new multi-purpose corvettes and modernization of current frigates, even though a winner has been chosen since 2019 and there have been no court challenges or stalls for almost a year. Although the Ministry of Defence announced it would settle the issue as early as this winter, a new delay has recently come – another few months’ respite for the builder to come up with a solution to sign the contract. Recently, after deadlines and missed deadlines to settle the issue, Defence Minister Vasile Dîncu announced again that “we have a small extension” requested by the builder. “We are not postponing the purchase, at this moment there is an extension requested by the Association [Naval Group – Constanta Shipyard] to come up with a final offer. I hope we will decide this in two months at the most,” Dîncu told TVR. “They have come with some requests to modify the initial conditions. This cannot be done in a procurement because it becomes a criminal matter. But I hope that, at this point, the two companies in the joint venture, which have asked for an extension of two more months, have found the solution to start this corvette programme.” Laurent Mourre, vice president for Europe and North America at Naval Group, said the company’s offer was made in 2018, and now three-way negotiations are still taking place between Naval Group, partner Constanta Shipyard and the Romanian state

“It’s a complex contract, there are some specifics and it’s a triangle negotiation that includes not only Naval Group but also our partner (n.r. Constanta Shipyard, a private company) and it’s difficult, it takes time. It’s a complicated negotiation overall,” Mourre said. According to the law, if the first competitor who was declared the winner for one reason or another does not sign the contract, it goes to the next competitor which is Damen. “Damen has extended its final financial offer, which means Damen is still in this race,” Gheorghe Savu, director of Damen Naval Romania, told HotNews.ro. “According to the procedure and documents governing this tender, the price cannot be changed throughout the duration of the contract. When a competitor assumes all the conditions of the tender, implicitly he has assumed that the main conditions cannot be changed: price, technology transfer, local production, delivery of the first ship in three years. If we look at the conditions of local production and delivery of the first ship in three years, it is obvious that Damen is by far the company that gives the guarantee that this can happen,” Savu said.

Comment: At the moment, all the Romanian Navy’s acquisition programs have been blocked for more than four years and no new programs can be initiated until the “Multipurpose Corvette Program” is unlocked. It should be noted that on 23 FEB 2017 “PSD and Chamber of Deputies President Liviu Dragnea declared on Wednesday that the government decision establishing the procurement procedure of corvettes for the Romanian Army is “illegal” and must be repealed”, if we had not had this intervention at this time Romania’s Naval Forces would have at least 3 (THREE) modern corvettes, very necessary given the security situation in the Black Sea.  The delays in this and other programmes have meant that at the moment, when the situation in the Black Sea is deteriorating day by day, the Romanian Naval Forces are unable to respond with capabilities adapted to the security challenges, practically the war has caught us totally unprepared, without any new ships because of these delays and procrastinations by politicians, a situation that seems to be dragging on. I respectfully hope that our politicians will make a decision before it is too late, and the Russian Federation’s total control of the Black Sea coastline will force Romania to stop having interests in the Black Sea. (Source:https://www.hotnews.ro/stiri-defense-25567476-nu-semneaza-contractul-corvetelor-naval-group-sunt-negocieri-care-tin-costuri-riscuri-locul-doi-damen-zice-face-aceiasi-bani-inainte-termen.htm).

The first world satellite war

Analysis – Carol Florea

One of the reasons for the Russian military’s failures in Ukraine could be that its military operations were supported by a small and inadequate constellation of communications and surveillance satellites. On the other hand, despite not having any satellites, Ukraine has received through confidential channels high-resolution images obtained by both Western government structures and commercial companies, which have responded promptly to Ukrainian calls. The move by private companies was a world first, an unprecedented initiative to which Russia did not respond as it has no such capabilities. As will be seen from the analysis below, Russia is basically “blind” in space. Russia currently has a small fleet of communication and surveillance satellites equipped with sensors and technologically outdated equipment. Numerically, Russia has about 70 military or dual-use satellites, of which less than 20 have technological capabilities for research/surveillance or interception of enemy communications (ELINT/SIGINT). Although the number seems impressive, Russia has only two Persona optical research satellites (weighing 7 tonnes) placed in orbit seven and nine years ago, virtually nearing the end of their operational life. The maximum resolution of the Persona satellites is estimated at 50 cm (according to other sources 33 cm), while the American Keyhole (KH) satellites are approaching 5 cm, which allows clear observation and identification of Russian equipment (including in sites) in Ukraine from the altitude at which they are located. For its part, Ukraine does not possess any communications or research satellites. But since the beginning of the conflict, in addition to massive transfers of combat equipment and technique, it has benefited from impressive amounts of crucial intelligence, including real-time satellite data and images of Russian forces’ movements, manoeuvres and operations. Numerically, the US has at least 120 military satellites. Of these, five are KH-12 ADVANCED KENNAN satellites (upgraded versions of KH-11 KENNAN, in some sources referred to as Advanced CRYSTAL or IKON), to which can be added French, Spanish or Italian satellites, while Russia has seriously lagged behind in building and putting into active service new remote-sensing satellites whose radars can see beyond the cloud ceiling, as opposed to satellites equipped with optical equipment. Another issue is the processing and analysis of information from space-based platforms. Of course, it’s not enough just to own satellites, it’s equally important to be able to use them to their full capacity. This requires an integrated system to ensure the rapid transfer of information from the satellites to the personnel responsible for processing them, and from there to the final beneficiaries – the people responsible for discovering, identifying and hitting adversary targets. The mere fact that Russia has a few satellites in orbit does not mean that they have implemented such a system, and even if they did, it is difficult to assess how well it works. Even the US has major difficulties in solving this problem. Digital images from satellites are analysed and processed by National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency-NGA computers. Judging by the difficulties encountered by Russian forces in Ukraine, it is quite clear that Russia does not have a functioning system capable of supporting the end beneficiaries of satellite images. On 1 March, six days after the start of the Russian invasion, a Ukrainian cabinet minister, Mikhail Fedorov, sent an extraordinary Twitter appeal to the world’s major commercial satellite service providers. He asked the companies to support Ukraine’s fight by providing real-time, high-resolution satellite imagery for discovering and analysing the positions, force manoeuvres and equipment of Russian forces. The Ukrainian official’s appeal was addressed to the eight largest satellite service providers. Some, such as Capella Space, an American company founded in 2016 and based in San Francisco, have publicly acknowledged their direct support to Ukraine. Others, such as Maxar Technologies and Planet Labs, have openly disseminated the satellite images and distributed them to international media outlets. Other commercial companies involved in providing commercial satellite imagery include EOS Data Analytics, Satellogic or OPT/NET.

Comment: One of the reasons for the Russian military’s failures in Ukraine may be that its military operations have been supported by a small and inadequate constellation of communications and surveillance satellites. On the other hand, despite not having any satellites, Ukraine has received through confidential channels high-resolution images obtained by both Western government structures and commercial companies, which have responded promptly to Ukrainian calls. We cannot know for sure either the volume of information or whether high-resolution satellite images have been sent, and this will probably be known for many years to come. It remains to be seen what impact the commercial companies’ support will have or how the Russians will retaliate in the period ahead. Regardless of how the war develops, commercial satellite imagery has emerged as a powerful new intelligence-gathering weapon (Source:https://monitorulapararii.ro/primul-razboi-mondial-al-satelitilor-1-43174). (Source:https://jamestown.org/program/russias-space-satellite-problems-and-the-war-in-ukraine/).

Russia wants to develop a new type of drone for helicopter carriers under construction. Russian industry – the planning champion

Russian news agency Tass reported on 07.06.2022, citing a source in the Military Industrial Complex, that Russia will develop a new type of helicopter-type research and attack drone for embarkation on ships in the Naval Forces’ equipment, in particular on universal landing ships (helicopter carriers) under construction at the Kierz Shipyard. Earlier, a Tass Agency source in the shipbuilding industry said that the Ivan Rogov and Mitrofan Moskalenko Project 23900 universal landing craft under construction at the Zaliv Shipyard in Kerch will be adapted for basing research and attack drones. According to its statement, the Project 23900 ships, in addition to basing a group of naval helicopters, will also carry an unspecified number of helicopter-type search and attack drones. The development and production of the new helicopter-type research and attack drones for embarkation on Russian warships is linked to the terms for the production of the first two indigenously produced helicopter carriers for the Russian Naval Forces. According to the current plans, the Ivan Rogov and Mitrofan Moskalenko universal landing craft will be launched in 2026 and 2027, and will be commissioned in 2028 and 2029. The former is destined for the Pacific Fleet and the latter for the Black Sea Fleet. The new ships, with a full displacement of 40,000 tonnes, will be able to embark 1,000 marines, 75 military technical units and four landing craft. The aviation group on board will be able to include 16 helicopters of the Ka-27, Ka-29, Ka-31 and Ka-52K types, as well as four drones.

Comment: The use of drones in combat actions over the last decade has proven their effectiveness, and in actions at sea the drones will be able to provide discovery and indication of the position of ships for the execution of missile attack, fire support for maritime desorting, illumination of targets in the landing zone and during special operations, detect and, if necessary, eliminate small craft. In the future, drones will be increasingly present in actions at sea. (Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/rusia-vrea-sa-dezvolte-un-nou-tip-de-drona-pentru-portelicopterele-aflate-in-constructie-industria-rusa-campioana-planificarilor_616756.html).

World’s first autonomous, AI/AI-based drone-carrying ship

China has launched the world’s first unmanned drone carrier that uses artificial intelligence to navigate autonomously in the water. Beijing has officially described it as a maritime research tool, but some experts said the vessel has the potential to be used as a military ship. The autonomous vessel, Zhu Hai Yun can carry dozens of aerial, maritime and submersible drones equipped with various observation instruments, according to the shipbuilder, CSSC Huangpu Wenchong Shipping Co. It describes the ship as “epoch-making” and “the world’s first intelligent unmanned vessel”. The ship will be remotely controlled and can sail at a maximum speed of 18 knots, according to the shipbuilder. Chen Dake, director of the lab, told the state-run Science and Technology Daily that the ship is a new “marine species” that will revolutionise ocean observation. AI is considered part of the fourth revolution; it is an enabling technology rather than a weapon, thus offering a wide application of the technology for civilian as well as military purposes. In this sense, AI has become one of the main aspects of power competition. Funaiole noted how China has invested considerable resources in various unmanned platforms, such as drones and autonomous vehicles, to strengthen its navy’s position. “It will be part of the future of warfare,” he said, according to Business Insider.

Comment: China is already the world’s largest shipbuilder and has ambitions to become a “maritime power”. While the capabilities and uses of this ship remain to be seen, militaries around the world have increasingly focused on developing drones and unmanned vehicles. On the other hand technology, especially data collection systems, often have dual-use applications and given China’s interests in the South China Sea, the use of scientific activities to otherwise support military objectives cannot be ruled out. (Source:https://euronaval.ro/2022/06/12/prima-nava-din-lume-purtatoare-de-drone-autonoma-si-bazata-pe-ai/). (Source:https://www.go4it.ro/content/curiozitati/china-lanseaza-prima-nava-de-razboi-autonoma-inarmata-cu-drone-si-submarine-fara-pilot-19200323/). (Source:https://evz.ro/china-a-lansat-primul-portavion-din-lume-care-este-operat-de-inteligenta-artificiala.html)

Russia’s failure in Ukraine is creating divisions among NATO members ahead of the historic Madrid summit. Some believe deploying additional forces in the east would be unnecessary and costly

Washington Post Analysis – Michael Birnbaum and Missy Ryan

A wide-ranging analysis by The Washington Post shows that extensive negotiations and even differences have emerged among NATO members, who are expected to decide in Madrid at the end of June on a historic relocation of troops from western to eastern Europe to counter the Russian threat. The main problem is the weakness of the Russian army in Ukraine, with some member states believing that it will no longer pose a threat to the Alliance for years to come, especially with the accession of Finland and Sweden. The Baltic states and Poland are calling for a significantly expanded military presence on their territories and new anti-aircraft capabilities that could deter a Russian attack. Other policymakers, including in France and Italy, believe such a deployment would not only be useful but costly. The Madrid summit is also expected to approve NATO countries Finland and Sweden’s membership applications. This expansion of the alliance would significantly increase NATO’s military capability in the north-east. “Direct Russian military aggression against NATO allies cannot be ruled out. Russia can quickly concentrate military forces against NATO’s eastern border and put the Alliance in the face of a short war and a fait accompli,” says a document obtained by The Washington Post, which contains a joint proposal from the Baltic states for the creation of a 20,000-strong mobile standing force to operate on NATO’s eastern flank. Eastern European countries are also pushing for NATO to formally renounce the NATO-Russia Founding Act, a 1997 agreement that limited the deployment of permanent bases to eastern Germany in exchange for Russia’s commitment to keep the peace. Most alliance officials agree that the pact is void not only because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but also because the Kremlin has stationed Russian troops in Belarus, a threatening distance from Lithuania’s capital Vilnius. But some officials in Western Europe and the United States are wary of explicitly scrapping the agreement, saying it is a useful vehicle for future coordination between NATO and Russia, but also because it enshrines NATO’s commitment never to station nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe. Among other things, it is likely that Madrid will also decide on a rail infrastructure development that would allow NATO to move heavy equipment quickly in case of emergency.

Comment: Russia’s failure in Ukraine must not be allowed to influence the summit’s decisions decisively, and strategic mistakes like the timid reactions to Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, or the annexation of Crimea in 2014, must be avoided. While most strategists now no longer believe that a Russian invasion would be imminent, it must be thought of in perspective, and under these circumstances it is clear that a stronger force is needed in the East to prevent a repeat of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. NATO countries need to understand that nations on the eastern flank should not be asked to stand alone in the event of an attack until allies intervene, as the NATO Charter requires. Even if the permanent stationing of large numbers of troops in the east is seen as costly and cumbersome, Western states need to do more than pre-position equipment, the presence of naval groups in the region, but this presence is also influenced by the provisions of the Montreux Convention and a new command structure at NATO level to allow for coordination and rapid mobilisation in the event of an attack. War is always more costly and more devastating than peacekeeping, which is once again evident in Ukraine. The cost of weakness is a bill we cannot afford to pay. (Source: https://www.biziday.ro/215582-2/). (Source:https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/05/17/nato-troops-europe-russia-ukraine/).

Lessons learned from the war in Ukraine. Elbridge Colby, former Pentagon official: Don’t rely on indirect international pressure

Analysis – Andreea Soare

More than 100 days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kiev is still standing, and Ukrainian forces have taken out more Russian servicemen than died during the nine-year USSR war in Afghanistan. The way Ukrainian forces are defending their territory seems to offer lessons to smaller states, such as Taiwan or Moldova, on preparing to repel a possible attack from powers such as China or Russia. “The clear lesson is: Don’t rely on indirect international pressure. You have to be able to defeat the enemy’s ability and hold your state’s key territory,” Elbridge Colby, a former Pentagon official who led the team that produced the 2018 US National Defense Strategy, told Bloomberg. In his view, countries vulnerable to attack from Russia or China should focus on “asymmetric defenses” by ensuring they have “decentralized, ready forces capable of creating problems for more powerful forces that can execute aggressive military operations.” “The war in Ukraine changes the concept of providing security to our citizens. To respond to aggression, Moldova needs modern weapons such as Javelins, anti-aircraft systems and light infantry weapons.” Another lesson learned from the war is the need for “small, agile units that can sabotage the enemy and then retreat to safety,” says Michele Flournoy, former US undersecretary for defence policy. “When you’re fighting a stronger enemy, you have to fight in an asymmetric fashion to undermine their power and exploit their vulnerabilities,” Flournoy said.

Comment: Even though until a few months ago war seemed like a thing of the past, we are now unfortunately seeing that it is very possible, and the format, deployment and technologies used in warfare are different from what we imagined. There are a few issues that need to be noted such as the need to equip and prepare forces for “asymmetric defence”, with forces that can act decentrally, ready and able to cause problems for more powerful forces (Source:https://monitorulapararii.ro/lectii-invatate-din-razboiul-din-ucraina-elbridge-colby-fost-oficial-al-pentagonului-nu-va-bazati-pe-presiunea-internationala-indirecta-1-43281).

America’s interests in Ukraine

Author – George Friedman

Almost every time Russia has been invaded, it has been saved by its strategic depth. Russia can’t really be defeated without first taking Moscow, and it’s a long way to Moscow. From Napoleon to Hitler, invaders from the West had to try to reach the capital before the brutal winter came – and before autumn rains turned the roads to mud. Russia must therefore keep the starting point of an attack as far away as possible and use its military to delay the advance as long as possible, writes George Friedman in Geopolitical Futures. This is Ukraine’s strategic value to Russia. If Ukraine remains intact and becomes part of NATO, Moscow would be less than 300 miles from possible attackers. Some believe that the US has no interest in Ukraine, or that if it does, it is a moral one. A moral interest is not enough in the harsh realities of geopolitics. I believe the US has a fundamental national interest in the war. The US has secured its territory against invasion, so the only threats to the country can only come from the oceans. Securing the seas has thus been at the core of US national security since 1900. For Washington, Soviet expansion in Europe was the same as Soviet expansion in the Atlantic. If the European peninsula were ever dominated by a single power that consolidated human and material resources, it could create a naval force that would threaten North America. For the US, preventing the European Peninsula from being dominated by a single power prevents the threat before it is even born. This is the interest in Ukraine. Among other reasons, Russia invaded to limit the threat posed by NATO. Even as Russia dominates Ukraine, there is still a NATO ally to the west. A quick victory in Ukraine has raised the possibility of more military action further west. The way Russia is waging war has made this scenario unlikely, of course, but unlikely is not the same as impossible.

Comment: Given that for a country like Russia, distance to Moscow means safety, we can expect Russia to push as far west as it can. And this poses a threat to the security of all countries on NATO’s eastern flank, a point best understood by Poland. That is why the future Strategic Concept must address the new security reality created by Russia’s war against Ukraine as a threat to Euro-Atlantic security, but also the need to strengthen the strategic partnership with the European Union to support peace and security. (Source:https://geopoliticalfutures.com/americas-interests-in-ukraine/). (Source:https://ziare.com/ucraina/ucraina-razboi-rusia-invazie-sua-interese-oceanul-atlantic-1744725). (Source:https://monitorulapararii.ro/interesele-americii-in-ucraina-1-43224).

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